Abundance from Obedience

Student Writers Month: Joshua 7:1
1 But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.

Student Writers Month:
This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.

Reflection: Abundance from Obedience

By Jilian Brown

Collective consequences for the action of one individual is not a popular idea in a time heavily focused on individual rights and justice. Though we may dislike this notion, the reality of it is evidenced all around us. When an athlete incurs a penalty, the team suffers. When a leader acts unethically, the organization suffers. When a spouse strays, the family suffers. In the case of the Israelites and Achan, the disobedience of one man cost the nation a battle and thirty-six lives in the process. 

Because collective consequences are a reality, our focus should be on collective obedience. Following God is a group effort. We are in a covenant with God as a people, not just individuals. It is the responsibility of the body of Christ to look out for one another. Even when the ways of the Lord seem clear to us, we must continue to speak them to those around us. Anyone can quickly slip from the truth of God’s ways without a regular reminder of them.

Obedience is also not a popular topic in our age of individualism. The root of disobedience is a scarcity mentality about God. Achan did not trust God for provision, but rather chose the immediate security in front of his eyes. In doing so, he and his family became like the people of the land. Rahab, by contrast, trusted God as a foreigner and her entire family became part of the Israelite community by way of her faith (Joshua 6.25). The important concept to reiterate to ourselves and others is that obedience brings about an abundant life, not a mediocre one. Obedience may feel restrictive in the moment, but ultimately brings about freedom and joy.How do we consistently trust and obey? David asked God to regularly scan his thoughts to keep him holy (Psalm 139.23-24). Like a daily CT scan of our souls, we must allow the Spirit’s search to take place and encourage others to do the same. When misplaced trust is revealed, immediate confession and repentance roots out the possibility of further sin and consequences for us and others. Achan’s individual lack of trust in God led to actions which held consequences for the whole community. In a glorious inverse, Jesus the individual took the consequences for all of our sin on the cross and that is worthy of our collective daily trust and obedience (Romans 5.12-17). 

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
“Because the needy are oppressed, and the poor cry out in misery, I will rise up,” says the Lord, “And give them the help they long for.” — Psalm 12.5

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Joshua 7 (Listen – 4:58)
Psalm 137-138 (Listen – 2:13)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

https://forms.gle/ozM13qvW9ouSWhJS7

Read more about Separateness Not Superiority
Obeying the command to “be holy” is what makes us able to be a light to the world. No holiness, no light.

Our Least Favorite Commandment

Psalm 137.4-6
How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy.

Reflection: Our Least Favorite Commandment
By John Tillman

When violence or injustice harms those close to us, we typically react with admirable compassion toward the victims. “Even sinners do that.”

What is more revealing of a heart shaped by Christ is how we act toward perpetrators. Down in the comment streams below fundraisers and bake sales, you will also find our baser instincts. You will find those vowing violence against the perpetrators. You will find those calling for merciless application of the fullest extent of the law’s punishment. You will find those wishing prison rape on the attackers.

All hearts shaped by our violent culture react this way. Even Christian communities react this way—sometimes when they have only been attacked with harsh words. There is, perhaps, no commandment of Jesus that we flout with more impunity than, “do good to those who hate you.”

Our first instinctive thought regarding injustice is, “someone has to pay.” And we prefer “justice” done by our own hands, in our own way. 

In scripture there are often violent men and calls for violent actions. Psalm 137 has long been struggled over by faithful believers as almost too terrible to exist in the same Bible with Psalm 139 that speaks tenderly of life in the womb. (Yet, even Psalm 139 calls for the death of the wicked.)

Speaking of this most violent of Psalms, Charles Spurgeon recognized that as bitter as the psalmist’s cry is, he still is relinquishing his own anger to be tempered by God into the sword of justice and administered by God at a time of his own choosing. 

“We may rest assured that every unrighteous power is doomed to destruction and that, from the throne of God, justice will be measured out to all whose law is force, whose rule is selfishness, and whose policy is oppression…shall despots crush virtue beneath their iron heel and never be punished? Time will show.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Injustice is before us, behind us, beneath us, and above us. Yet we rest assured that Christ who is before us, behind us, beneath us, and above us sees it too. God has given judgment to the Son and he will carry it out. All “whose policy is oppression,” will answer to the judgment of Christ.

The next time we think, “someone has to pay,” may we also hear the voice of Christ speak within us saying, “I will pay. It is finished. Forgive them. They know not what they do.”

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness. — Psalm 103.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Joshua 7 (Listen – 4:58) 
Psalm 137-138 (Listen – 2:13)

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 8 (Listen – 4:58), Psalm 139 (Listen – 2:26)
Joshua 9 (Listen – 4:58), Psalm 140-141 (Listen – 2:44)

Thank You!
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Read more about Killing With our Hearts
Some of the most popular sayings of Jesus are here in Matthew’s fifth chapter. So are many of the most ignored sayings of Jesus.

Readers’ Choice Submissions
It is once again time for us to seek out the voices of our readers and hear from you about posts from the past eleven months that have challenged and comforted you and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.

Readers’ Choice posts will be republished during the month of August and periodically throughout the Fall.

Follow the link to fill out the form. Feel free to fill out the form multiple times for multiple submissions. Please limit your submissions to posts published this calendar year, between September of 2018 and today.

For any questions about The Park Forum, or to make suggestions of posts via email, contact John Tillman at john@theparkforum.org

Read more about Choosing Gentleness Over Violence
We cannot continue posting and liking things that are resentful, quarrelsome, and the opposite of gentle, yet expect to represent Christ and the Gospel in the world.

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